Illuminating the Path: The Color of Autism Foundation’s Commitment to Justice and Insight
January 31, 2024
By: Camille Proctor
The year 2008 marked a profound shift in my journey. My two-year-old son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and I was determined to ensure he had every resource to flourish. However, I quickly discovered a stark lack of support for families like mine, particularly in the Black community. This realization spurred me into action, leading to the inception of The Color of Autism Foundation.
Established in 2009, the foundation’s mission is both straightforward and formidable: to offer education and support to African-American families affected by autism. Historically, our community has contended with inequities in healthcare, education, and societal acknowledgment—challenges that autism intensifies. Thus, equipping families with knowledge and tools for advocacy is essential to transforming our children’s futures.
Our foundation’s voyage has been one of discovery and championing rights. We advocate that inclusivity is an inherent right, not a luxury. We’re dedicated to removing obstacles and paving the way for African-American families to secure prompt diagnoses, effective therapeutics, and indispensable community support.
Our efforts are exemplified by initiatives like Spectrum of Care, which provides comprehensive support through education and training. Our national virtual training has empowered over 600 caregivers to support their loved ones effectively and become potent advocates for their children. Witnessing these parents transition into community leaders and advocates has been profoundly moving.
We adopt a neuro-affirming stance, recognizing the vast potential within individuals on the autism spectrum. Their distinct talents and viewpoints, when fostered, can culminate in remarkable accomplishments. Our programs, particularly Spectrum of Care, deliver an array of services targeting not only health and educational needs but also the all-encompassing growth of Black children on the spectrum.
The foundation’s commitment to culturally competent support has built a resilient network within communities of color, pivotal in establishing connections, securing services, and most importantly, ensuring that no family navigates their path alone.
Looking ahead, The Color of Autism Foundation is resolute in is resolute in revealing the nature of autism within the Black community. We aspire to cultivate a society where everyone is embraced, and their potential is fostered. We envision a future where inclusion and effectiveness are tangible for our families.
We dream of a world where the autistic community has access to employment, skill enhancement, and entrepreneurship. Our goal is to lead the charge in advocating for policies that address the needs of those who require more support and to alleviate the stress and isolation that many caregivers face.
Parents ought to lead by example in allyship, embracing their children for who they are, promoting open dialogue, and championing their children’s autonomy and preferences. These caregivers set a precedent for the community, catalyzing a culture of allyship within the Black community and beyond.
This is our invitation to a journey of enlightenment, where every step we take is toward a more just, understanding, and supportive future for African-American autistics and their families. Join us as we illuminate this path, creating a legacy of inclusivity and insight for generations to come.
Camille Proctor is the executive director of The Color of Autism Foundation, which she founded in 2009. By providing culturally competent support and training, she and her foundation aim to improve outcomes for children in underserved communities on the autism spectrum. She has served as a diversity and inclusion advisor for both television and film, contributing to more inclusive storytelling in the entertainment industry. She also presents on the topic of autism nationally and internationally. In September 2020, she was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the Michigan State Disability Council, supporting people with developmental disabilities in achieving their life dreams.